Primary Sources: the Mabinogion 3 (Rhiannon’s Plan)
Back from the commercial break, Gwawl was tapping his foot meaningfully and waiting for Rhiannon and Pwyll to emerge from their huddle. “Hello? You people ready to get back to it?”
“Of course, of course,” said Pwyll. “Well, much as I regret it, I’ll abide by my promise, and step aside. Here’s Rhiannon! Have at her!”
“Great!” Gwawl was ready to marry her then and there, but Pwyll pointed out a small flaw in that scheme.
“Unfortunately I can’t give you this marriage feast, so you can’t wed today.”
“What? Why not? Marriage feast was totally part of the package!”
“Yeah, but, see, the feast has already been disbursed,” explained Pwyll. “All the guests have their dinner. I can’t take the dinner back, just so you can give it to them.”
“I don’t see why this matters,” grumbled Gwawl. “There’s a feast, who cares about this trivial detail?”
Who cares? Rhiannon cares! Heveydd the Old cares! All the partygoers care!
Eventually Gwawl caved. “Fine! So tomorrow we’ll have another feast and marry.”
“Oh, no. No no no no no.” Rhiannon chuckled sadly. “You don’t just throw together a feast like this. It takes time to set up.”
“Fine. Whatever. How long did this one take? I’ll come back after that amount of time.”
“Cool, see you in a year!” (Rim shot!)
One year later, another feast, another bride, another groom, another sunny honeymoon? Gwawl certainly hoped so. He showed up in the court of Heveydd the Old roaring for a wedding! Pwyll also came, with his ninety-nine bosom chums, and also a purse. Soon the tableau of the year before was recreated, except with Pwyll and Gwawl’s positions switched.
“‘Gwawl, old buddy, congratulations on your impending nuptials,'” Pwyll recited. “‘But I have to ask you for a favor of my own.’ Wait for response.”
“I memorized what I have to say, and…”
“No, no, I mean, what’s the favor?” Gwawl smirked. “See, I’m not dumb enough to agree to it without hearing it first. So if that was your plan…”
“‘It is just a small thing,'” Pwyll recited. “‘I would like to use this purse as a doggie bag.’ Hold up bag.” He held up the bag. “‘Please, fill this small purse with food.'”
“Fine, whatever. Jeez, you people and your obsession with this stupid wedding feast,” grumbled Gwawl.
Heveydd’s servants started putting feast into the purse, but no matter how much soup and salad and breadsticks and wedding cake and so forth they placed within the purse, it never became any fuller or any heavier. After the fourth tureen of gazpacho was poured into the purse, Gwawl finally snapped.
“This has taken like an hour! Is your stupid purse never going to be full? Is that your dumb plan, to stretch this out forever?”
Pwyll sighed. “Okay, you caught me. I was having a little fun.” He held up his purse. “See, this is a magic bag. You’re right. The only way it becomes full is if a king sticks his feet in it and recites the magic words the bag is full now. I know, I know,” he said, over Gwawl’s rising protests. “It makes no sense, but what are you going to do? Magic bag.”
“Just put your feet in this stupid bag already,” Rhiannon told Gwawl.
“Do you want to marry me or not?” she snapped.
Gwawl was starting to wonder! But nevertheless he lifted his feet up in the air and signalled to Pwyll to put the bag around them. “The bag is full now,” he started to say, but then Pwyll lunged forward and shoved Gwawl bodily into the magic bag and closed it.
“Fun new game!” Pwyll shouted. “It’s called ‘Let’s hit this bag with sticks!’”
He tossed the bag to his man Guy, who hit it with a stick. “Yeah!” cried Guy. “That’s some good bag-hitting! Hey, guys!” Guy carried the bag out to the main mass of revelers, including Pwyll’s ninety-eight other friends. “We’re all hitting this bag now!”
“Why? What’s in it?”
“I dunno. A badger. It’s some fun animal cruelty!”
The partygoers loved animal cruelty, and so the game of badger in the bag was born. This was a much better name for the game than let’s hit this bag with sticks, because many of the players kicked the bag instead of using a stick.
Eventually someone noticed the bag was emitting whimpering sounds, and carried it back over to Pwyll and Rhiannon.
Rhiannon cracked the bag open. “How’re you doing, Gwawl?”
“I’ve been kicked and hit with sticks,” sobbed Gwawl. “Please let me out or else I’m going to die in here, on top of all this wedding cake.”
“You should let him out,” counseled Heveydd the Old. “It’s bad luck for a wedding guest to die of being kicked while stuffed into a magic bag.”
“Promise not to try anything sneaky, if we let you out? No marrying Rhiannon on the sly?”
“No, no, I promise, you can have her!”
“Also he should have to give out the door prizes,” suggested Rhiannon.
“Okay, fine, I’ll also pay for the door prizes!”
And so Pwyll and Rhiannon let Gwawl out of the magic bag, and Gwawl passed out a lot of jewelry and basically bankrupted himself paying for their wedding. Many of the wedding guests went through the jewelry-receiving time multiple times! But eventually Gwawl had no more gifts to give, and the wedding party ended. And then Pwyll and Rhiannon went home to Aberth, and lived happily ever after for two and a half years.
NEXT: THREE YEARS LATER!
Primary Sources: the Mabinogion 3 (Rhiannon’s Plan) — No Comments
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